Chance for auroras tonight June 21-22 / Comet Jacques approaches the sun


A large cloud of hydrogen gas called a filament erupts from the sun on June 19, 2014. We normally see these fiery gas clouds along the sun’s limb as pink flames. Here it shows in silhouette.

Welcome to the first day of summer! The new season’s first night may just bring us a blush of northern lights. A filament – another name a solar prominence except seen in silhouette against the sun’s bright disk – erupted from the sun’s southern hemisphere Thursday. Flung into space because of some magnetic disturbance, most of the material shot off to the northeast, but some was Earth-directed. It should arrive overnight and possibly set off a minor aurora storm.

A portion of a CME / filament eruption Thursday may spark auroras tonight and tomorrow night. This photo was  made with the coronagraph on the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. Credit: NASA/ESA

NOAA forecasters are calling for a 25% chance of a minor storm for mid-northern latitudes tonight and a 20% chance Sunday night.

The picture above showing the coronal mass ejection was taken with the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory’s coronagraph, a special camera with an occulting disk that blocks direct sunlight so astronomers can see what’s going on around the sun. Photos taken today with the instrument show a new visitor – Comet Jacques. You can watch it enter the field of view at lower left.

There are faint hints of a tail in these 24 consecutive images compiled into an animation by Rob Kaufman.

Amateur astronomer Rob Kaufman compiled multiple still photos into a video showing the ‘blip’ on the move. It’s currently around magnitude 7, but once it passes the sun and moves into the morning sky next month, it may be bright enough to spot in binoculars. More on that as the time approaches.


Another erupting filament photographed late Friday night June 20 with NASA’s Solar Dynamics telescope.

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About astrobob

My name is Bob King and I work at the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minn. as a photographer and photo editor. I'm also an amateur astronomer and have been keen on the sky since age 11. My modest credentials include membership in the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) where I'm a regular contributor, International Meteorite Collectors Assn. and Arrowhead Astronomical Society. I also teach community education astronomy classes at our local planetarium.

7 thoughts on “Chance for auroras tonight June 21-22 / Comet Jacques approaches the sun

  1. I am starting to get excited about the return of Jacques, maybe brightening to magnitude 5. Have you taken a look at Lovejoy lately, or is it getting out of range?

    • Hi Edward,
      I last saw Lovejoy about two weeks ago. It was 12.5-13 mag. and faint. Not difficult from a dark sky but not obvious either. We’ve had the moon and a lot of rain lately and plan to look again the next clear night. Nice that Jacques is visible to SOHO. It will also be showing up in one of the STEREOS.

  2. Hi

    the NOAA forecasts shows the mag 4 and 5 (G1) storms to last from 15 UT Jun 22 to about 06 UT Jun 23, which in Central Time is from 10 AM Jun 22 to about 1 AM Jun 23

    Are my assumption correct? For yesterday night, the Kp forecast were only in the region of 1-2. The Geophysical Institute, Alaska aurora forecast website seems to indicate Kp of 2 with no activity on the US side: http://www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast/NorthAmerica/2014/06/22

    Was there any Aurora sighting overnight? The weather was forecast for Duluth was cloudy and foggy. I am not local in Duluth, but based in Minneapolis.

    • Ani,
      No sightings here. It was cloudy, but I see that the Kp remained low overnight with no mid-latitude auroras. I use the general NOAA forecast and times which are in UT. June 22 UT = overnight June 21-22. There’s still a probability for aurora overnight tonight.

      • I subscribe to the NOAA 3 day forecast feed. These numbers are from today’s forecast.

        SWPC Product Subscription Service

        NOAA Kp index breakdown Jun 22-Jun 24 2014

        Jun 22 Jun 23 Jun 24
        00-03UT 1 5 (G1) 2
        03-06UT 2 4 1
        06-09UT 1 3 1
        09-12UT 1 3 2
        12-15UT 2 2 4
        15-18UT 4 2 4
        18-21UT 5 (G1) 2 4
        21-00UT 4 3 3

        Rationale: G1 (Minor) geomagnetic storm conditions are expected 22-23
        Jun due to the anticipated arrival of the 19 June coronal mass ejection
        (CME).

  3. Venus and Moon a pretty sight this morning. With comet Jacques passing close to Venus the second week of July, it would be interesting to see a picture of how the 2 will line up together in the sky.

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